Getting Remarried? Review Your Estate Plan Before the Nuptials

Remarriage after widowhoodThere are some unforeseen ramifications of remarriage. Questions come up like, Who gets the personal belongings of a deceased parent or how do you prove title to personal property?

Without careful estate planning and periodic reviews of that plan, there could be unforeseen legal consequences when a widow or widower remarries leaving intended heirs disenfranchised and bitter.  After all, there’s no title to a family heirloom like grandpa's pipe collection. A parent can say that specific items should go to a particular child, but its proving that they actually belonged to the parent rather than a new spouse that's the difficulty.

If your parent dies before the new spouse, chances are that the tangible personal property will not go to your side of the family.  That’s why I encourage my clients to sign a prenuptial agreement.  These agreements are particularly useful when the marriage creates a blended family of adult children. A prenup is no longer a requirement of just the ‘Brangelina-type’ union; it's especially important if assets include 401K or other ESOP retirement plans because without the ability to put the proper beneficiary designation paperwork in place, these assets might well go to your new spouse instead of your children or grandchildren as you’d planned.

Be especially aware of how state laws can impact inheritances. There are some states that allow the surviving spouse to continue living in their deceased spouse's home. If the deceased had children by a prior marriage, they could be cooling their heels for some time before they receive their inheritance. This can create a dicey situation when most of the deceased client's wealth is tied up in the home.

Likewise, when folks move from one state to another, especially when it’s a second or third marriage, they should talk with a qualified estate planning attorney to understand what rights that spouse has attained because of the move. There could be surprises. For example, in Oklahoma the surviving spouse has a right to the family bible.

Reference: On Wall Street (Sept. 14, 2016) “Estate planning mishaps: How even the family bible is at stake”


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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
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Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.